While it’s been a long time since I’ve had to make a claim against my car insurance anyone I do know who has had to make a claim has been far from satisfied with the service they’ve received … and that’s not something that’s new.
For a long time now the car insurance industry has been more interested in reducing costs, increasing profits and pushing repairers to do a cheap job rather than it has in providing a good service for their customers. Consumers complaints get lost in the background noise and even motoring bodies that are supposed to represent their members haven’t had much to say.
But finally an industry body is trying to make itself heard and the VACC is not pulling any punches. They say that they’ve had a “gutfull of the car insurance industry”.
VACC, the peak Automotive Industry body in Victoria, has called for insurance companies to end unethical market practices and to stop treating motorists unfairly.
Channel Seven’s ‘Today Tonight’ program last night reported that some insurance companies were increasingly diverting motorists away from the repairer they choose to the insurance company’s ‘preferred repairer’. The program also reported that some insurers were:
quoting for repairs from photographs instead of personally inspecting the damaged vehicle;
pressurising ‘preferred repairers’ to fix vehicles cheaply, resulting in corners being cut, substandard repairs and unsafe vehicles;
offering cash settlements to motorists that do not cover the full cost of repairs.
“We have had a gutful of the treatment dished out to repairers and motorists by the insurers,” VACC Executive Director, David Purchase, said.
“Increasingly, insurance companies are directing motorists towards their preferred repairer network. Their actions deny motorists’ control and freedom of choice.
“Insurers are unfairly, unreasonably, and increasingly arbitrarily, reducing quotes so low that the repairer cannot repair the vehicle properly. As a consequence, we have poorly repaired, devalued and, potentially, unsafe vehicles out on the roads.
“It is not as if insurance companies need to screw us to the floor boards in order to survive. They are making enormous profits. They are supposed to be providing a service, but once a customer signs the policy papers, the insurance company controls the process. We want Government to bring the insurance companies back into line.
“Insurers are good at asking consumers’ questions and insisting on truthful answers. We should expect honesty from them in return. It is not good enough to have a clause buried in the small print of the ‘product disclosure statement’ about choice of repairer. It needs to be clearly identified and open for discussion from the outset.
“VACC calls on the State Government to pass legislation that requires a consumer is told about the choice of repairer provisions being offered in a comprehensive car insurance policy.
“And VACC recommends all motorists ask their insurance company the following question, ‘can I choose the repairer I want’,” Mr Purchase said.